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Why do we re-enact

Discussion in 'Living History' started by Stefan, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    In the last few months due to various problems in my own unit I have begun to seriously reconsider my reasons for getting into re-enactment. When I started I wanted to learn and to have fun, I joined the 12th SS because I was 15 and it was the only unit that would accept me at that age, it was as simple as that. Now I do not think that is enough, I want to actually get a feel for things, to sleep out in the cold, to be tired, hungry and so on. I want show the public a side to the German soldier that they never see, not a 'friendly face' but a human face.

    I bring this up because of recent descussion of the amount of effort people are willing to make, I am beginning to get the impression that many re-enactors over here are in it simply so that they can ponse around in uniform, give themselves medals and rank and perhapse feel respected (not that anyone respects them). Just wondering why you guys got into it and why you stay with it...
     
  2. BratwurstDimSum

    BratwurstDimSum Member

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    Stefan,

    Very good points there mate. At the risk of getting criticism for my thoughts, I question the number of Waffen SS units that have been created recently. I saw one recently which took itself way too seriously with their officer shouting "Heil Hitler!" & "Sieg Heil!" at a public military vehicle event.

    I question especially those which are named after quesionable units, eg. Das Reich. Just what are they trying to portray?

    What is the attraction about being in these units especially the ones which have been tried for war crimes? (as prev discussed:Oradour-Sur-Glane) I am not PC by any stretch of the imagination but if, for instance people know that you are in a unit that has been tried (successfully) for war crimes, you KNOW people are going to ask the question...

    "Do you approve of those crimes and if not why are you wearing the uniform of the unit which was proven to have committed the crime?"

    As for me I am in it for two reasons, to show people that most of Germany's army was conscripted and (as I am chinese) that it was made up from more than the Super Arian race!

    The other reason being that its such a cool uniform! ;)

    As for being in it to get awards and ranks...well to be "presented" with a bravery award for promoting your reenactment group, for marching the best or being a member 10 years...well that's just an insult to the award and all those who committed great acts of bravery for it methinks! [​IMG]

    Am I wrong? I am up for being corrected! I'm also a bit emotional being rememerance day and all!! ;)

    [ 11. November 2003, 07:52 AM: Message edited by: BratwurstDimSum ]
     
  3. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    I re-enact SS and no I do not condone Malmady or the murder of Canadian soldiers. Personally I do not see the connection, after all, why is it that no one who represents a Tommy is asked if they approve of sending Cossacks to death camps? The main reason people go for SS units (particularly LAH and HJ) is that they were elite units, they were exceptional fighting soldiers and the 'best' of the German armed forces. Apart from anything, the same question can be asked of anyone who represents the German army (an army that supported a regieme? Most German units going into Russia committed some fairly foul deeds of one sort of another). Apart from that, SS uniforms were cooler than Whermacht ;) . The way I see it part of our objective is to remind people that even the SS were Human, something that is all too easily forgotten in an age where people forget that given extroadinary circumstances ordinary men can do extroadinary things, i.e. that German soldiers were no different from us other than in their beliefs and situation, even the SS.

    I agree about SS soldiers saluting etc and I think I know which unit you are talking about, whilst it is historically accurate politically it needs re-thinking.

    The people I worry about are the ones who want to stroll around in uniform and nothing else, just to wear the uniform. These people can not even claim that they are doing it for educational reasons. Seems silly to me, particularly those who want to ponse around in SS political and dress uniforms, they are the ones who are in it for the sole reason of dressing up an Nazis, not your average SS re-enactor.

    Awards, the general consensus on awards as far as groups go is that for 'time in the unit' awards are pretty much a one off thing (the odd long service medal), Infantry assault badges etc are given out for appropriate numbers of battles etc attended and awards for bravery are hardly ever issued, the odd Iron Cross may be awarded for someone doing something particularly brave in simulated battle or an impressive act of leadership. The exception is the Knights Cross, these are not awarded ever, in fact the only legitimate unit I have run into that awarded the RK was a group that gave it for saving the life of another re-enactor (for real), seems fair enough to me. Rank, well ranks vary from unit to unit but really they are necessary for administrative reasons, awards, well look at any german unit and you will see some awards worn, its just an accuracy thing.
     
  4. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    Stefan I understand what you mean. When I first started this hobby I used to want to go to all the events. Now I'm really getting tired of the usual lets show up and BS around a campfire on friday night and spend a whole day doing hit calling and complaining about getting off our butts. I wanna spend the whole night in the field doing patrols or sleeping in a fox hole, using my esbit stove while I'm freezing. I'm so tired of seeing the extremely overweight reenactors. I go through the trouble of cutting my hair to look german and talking in the language, but when a large man (usually) in SS camo shows up it just ruins the feel. Where I am most of the SS reenactors are just people that are in the hobby for trigger time and camo. I am in it for the opposite reasons, even though I believe splinter pattern is pretty sexy. It gets depressing at times, but thankfully I have guys in my unit that have the same passion for suffering in the field as I do which makes it worth it. Well I'm gonna stop right now because I'm alittle to passionate about this topic and I don't want to offend people. I'll write more once I calm down.
     
  5. BratwurstDimSum

    BratwurstDimSum Member

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    Ok mate, sorry, I did get carried away a little (it was armistice day [​IMG] )

    Playing Wehrmacht, I don't have any particular unit number, just Joe Bog from some infantrie Regiment, so I can't be accused of being involved with senseless slaughter, I like to think of my impression is of a chinese soldat in Normandy holding back the invading Allied forces
    My point was (and I have no particular knowledge of any atrocities committed by your unit) do people, out of ALL the units they could choose from, join the more infamous ones because of the notoriety associated with them?

    Most SS were badasses :D in how fanatical they fought, their esprit-de-corps and determination to get the job done, a good choice of impression. So why not choose one which has a relatively untarnished record?

    I applaud the young these days who enter living history in honour of those who have fallen WW2, a lot of kids these days aren't aware of the sacrifices or just don't care. Good on you Stefan.
     
  6. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    I think people pick the units they do because the ones that have the finest combat records are often the ones that committed the worst atrocetiest simply because of their fanatacism. In fact whilst a lot of SS units were extreamly combat effective, not all of them were top notch units no matter how fanatical they were and I would not feel happy representing a useless unit simply because they were fanatics.

    Pzgren, yeah, at a recent event I was at we were supposed to have a full scale 24 hour battle. A load of us got REALLY cheesed off because they brought along a burger van so naturally every couple of hours half the platoon strolled off to to get a cuppa and a sandwich! Rediculous, that is NOT re-enactment. We were furious! Then the night time bit was cancelled because people were not going to be happy sleeping out in temperatures of minus 6. It was rediculous! I went out with the intention of staying out all night on both days, didnt bring a tent so spent the first night out on an open field beneath a pair of Zelts forming a one sided shelter witha greatcoat and a blanket. Frankly that was one of the best experiences since I have been in re-enactment, I was freezing, the only way I could actually get to sleep was to lie under the blanket, curl up into the foetal position and pull my sidecap down. It was really cold, in fact at one point I lost sensation in my feet and at another I was lieing there thinking 'what is that noise? Oh yeah, its me shivering'. It was cold. Everyone thought I was a nutter, particularly in the morning when I dug a small pit, set up the esbit and cooked a relativley authentic breakfast (2 boiled eggs, some rye bread, cup of proper army tea made with condenced milk and a chunk of sausage) rather than going to the burger bar. Frankly after that I was amazingly annoyed when no one was willing to stay out all night, particularly because we had started up a fire because it wasn't tactical so me and the only other real re-enactor there kept relativley warm by the fire. Anyhow, thats why it is an issue for me.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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  8. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    Seriously, I would stand beside any of them rather than most re-enactors, at least they were committed and would have fought to the last rather than leaving the field of battle for a burger!
     
  9. BratwurstDimSum

    BratwurstDimSum Member

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    Very interesting points you make Stefan:

    Are you saying here that a unit can be combat effective but not top notch? Forgive the silly question but what is the difference here and how does that affect a person like yourself's decision to join up or not? It's just you said before that you joined up because they allowed someone (then) of your age to do so! ;)

    Too right mate, a lot of people are already critical enough about SS reenactors without making them a joke by doing the fast food convenince thing. The SS were reknown for suffering from all sorts of deprivations to fight effectively for Germany in the closing stages of the war, so if the public sees a Big Kahuna buger trailer rock up...well that would just make you guys look like a joke.

    I've got to say though, would they think the same about an American GI Reenactment unit doing the same?
     
  10. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    First point, sorry, what I meant to say was that whilst most were highly combat effective, many (of the others) were not especially good despite their fanaticism, in fact their fanatical devotion to their cause was the only thing going for them. I went for the 12th SS because I was 15 and because at that age it was the only unit that would take me (Hitler youth and all that). I was also very interested in the unit already though I did not know that much about it I got into re-enactment in general because I was fed up of playing computer games and watching films that give you all the fun parts but not the rest.

    The Burger Bar was at a private battle, we would not use one at a public show as the public would see it. However yes, you see to get my point, when the public take the mickey and call us 'loonies who want to strut about in Nazi uniforms' for the most part they are absolutly correct. I feel that in my case they are not because the uniform is not the point for me, I want to experience some of what it was like so that I can understand it better. It does actually make a difference, to be able to watch film or photos from Normandy and know how the kit a particular grenadier is wearing makes him feel etc.
     
  11. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    Stefan, I am the same way. At a recent event over the summer I was out in the field while it was pouring rain in the middle of the night and after many hours of this along with the truck that was to pick us up being over 3 hours late and making us march to a new far off pick up point. I didn't mind any of it. I actually enjoyed it and it also gave me alot more respect for the veterans.
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    This was a very nice discussion. What you all say is valid and you said just how you feel. That's good.

    I just must say that SS uniforms were NOT prettier than the Army's... At least the general's uniforms didn't! [​IMG]
     
  13. William

    William Member

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    Since the GI was brought into the discussion, I guess I'll throw my 2 cents into the fray.

    Unfortunately for the GI "reenactor" (I personally hate that word), farbiness prevails. Guys doing combat infantrymen who are too old, too overweight, wearing the wrong uniform/equipment for the unit or scenerio they are portraying, and not really caring to improve. That burns me. That's one of the reasons I'm starting a Volkssturm unit-I'm becoming too old to portray an accurate GI rifleman.

    The German "reenactors" have GI's beaten in terms of acting the part correctly.

    In my group, we use the phrase "to educate the public" for what we do. But personally, I do it to educate myself FIRST, then the public.

    For an event, I research who was there on the dates being portrayed, then alter my uniform/equipment/weapons to fit that scenerio.

    I got into reenacting to learn something. I know I'll never get close to experiencing what the real soldiers did-heck, no one is firing 88's at me. But, I feel I can gain at least a small insight by doing things correctly.

    For example, one day our group kitted up and hiked 8 miles, then went into a field, dug foxholes, and slept in them to get a feel for it. We've slept outside in the rain and in the snow (suffering near frostbite at that one) and in the heat with no public around. Just to get a little insight.

    That way, I feel when I am talking to someone, I can put a bit of my experiences into my explanation, however small my experiences were.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Rip
     
  14. Modus

    Modus Member

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    Rip, to a few in my unit, that's what its all about.

    It's hard, however, balancing those "grognards" with the fair-weathers to better suit everyone's needs - especially when they are paying for it.

    [​IMG]

    Reply about the Grenade will come, I promise. [​IMG]
     
  15. BratwurstDimSum

    BratwurstDimSum Member

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    THANK YOU FREDRICH! :D

    Someone who finally agrees with me on this point. As I mentioned in another forum:

    "... some of the W-SS field uniforms looked like one huge coffee-stain mixed with vomit,

    [​IMG]

    practical, but hey, so were the Russian Uniforms. WH uniforms are the smartest, get the chick outfits ever made."
     
  16. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    Depends what uniforms you are on about, most of the camo is actually quite cool and the field grey stuff is ok, though to be honest I tend to wind up looking fairly scruffy, I always go for the 'combat soldier' circa late 1944 look even if it is 'combat soldier on leave'. Actually, having been literally rescued by camo (the number of times we have been able to ambush a bunch of allies because of our camo is rediculous) I rather like it, its all down to taste though I guess.

    William, thats the kind of thing we like to do, a few of us anyhow, we have a chunk of land on the Bristol channel and in the not too distant future we are going to go out and dig in etc, should be interesting.
     
  17. BratwurstDimSum

    BratwurstDimSum Member

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    If it saves your life, its a great uniform in my books...you're not going to worry about how pretty you are once you get a bullet in your head I guess [​IMG]

    I personally though, think it looks like a leopard outfit from a Lion King Stage show :D only kidding Stefan.
     
  18. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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  19. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    Heer uniforms are sexy, end of discussion. [​IMG] I know for a fact that the ladies love a man in feldgrau. Well thats enough fanatizing about putting my tunic on for now.
    Rip, why can't all GI "living historians" be like you. On another note, where I live there is a really big fog right now. Does any one else love reenacting in the fog when you can't see crap infront of you? I know I do.
     
  20. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    It is true about women and Feldgrau, but a nice smart SS uniform works even better.
     

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